OANDA Platform Walkthrough
OANDA's web-based and downloadable trading platforms provide easy-to-use tools, resources and trading capabilities for both active traders and casual investors. Traders have access to over 100 financial instruments, including more than 60 Forex pairs and 40 CFDs on a wide-range of global indexes, commodities, bonds and metals (priced in different currencies).
One of the main advantages of OANDA is the statistical data provided to traders. The OANDA Research Labs provide historical data on how currencies actually move, how traders are positioning themselves and what current sentiment is. These unbiased statistics can be used by short-term and longer-term traders alike.
OANDA doesn't charge commissions on trades. Instead, it requires traders to pay the spread (difference between the bid and offer) to enter positions. While the spreads are industry competitive and excellent for casual or longer-term traders, short-term traders – such as day traders – may find this spread costs them more than a direct-access or ECN broker. Spreads are reduced for Premium account holders who hold more than $50,000 in their account.
In this broker guide we'll introduce you to some of the key features available to OANDA clients, including account management, news and analysis tools, trading platforms, tradable products, educational resources and customer support.
Learn more about OANDA's platform by following our Brokerage User Experience Review. Scroll down for a detailed look at what OANDA offers. Get to a specific topic even faster by clicking on the name of the section in the nav bar at left.
Welcome Page - OANDA corporation is an online currency and CFD broker, as well as a currency converter and money transfer company.
OANDA caters to clients around the world. It has offices - and is regulated - in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Singapore and Australia. Clients can access their trading account, and trade, via web-based or downloadable platforms. Trade pricing is transparent, with no commissions and only an industry-competitive spread (difference between bid and ask price) charged on transactions. Traders can open accounts with as much or as little capital as they wish, and leverage is provided at a rate of up to 50:1 (in the U.S. - rate may be higher in other jurisdictions).
Portfolio & Account Management
Account Management - Upon logging in, the account management page provides links to the various resources available within the account. The main features to note begin with "OANDA web", which will launch the web-based trading platform. Alternatively, traders can download platforms to their computer by clicking OANDA desktop or MetaTrader 4.
The manage funds link gives access to current balances and allows users to add more accounts. For example, this is useful for segregating day trading to one account and investing to another. Click on any account in the manage funds section to alter the leverage or change the name of the account.
Launch real-time news, update passwords and email subscriptions, and also view trading histories all from this page.
Balance & Portfolio Summary - For a quick way to see all balances and current positions, launch OANDA Web. Account details appear along the left side of the platform:
NAV reflects the value of the capital in the account, plus any current gains or losses.
Unrealized P/L shows whether the current trades are making or losing money, and how much.
Realized P/L is the total profit or loss in the account, not including unrealized profits or losses.
Position Value is the total dollar amount of all positions currently being held in the account. This can be compared to the Balance to attain the Margin Used figure.
Margin used is how much of the available capital (Balance x Leverage) is being used by the current positions.
Margin Available is how much capital the client has available to use for opening positions. Leverage is how large of a position a client can take relative to his/her balance (for example 10:1 would mean a client can take a position worth up to 10 times the account equity).
News & Market Insights
Latest News - Clicking on the news tab in OANDA Web or OANDA Desktop produces a list of the latest news announcements, gathered from various sources including Dow Jones Newswire and OANDA. The newsfeed typically updates every couple of minutes with news that is affecting various global markets. Stories include economic data releases, discussion of important fundamental/macroeconomic events, assets that are on the move and technical analysis updates.
Featured Articles by Market Pulse (MP) - To zero in on specific news events, or to read about news stories in more depth, click on the Market Pulse tab in OANDA Web or OANDA Desktop. Market Pulse is a news feed that provides in-depth coverage of various topics related to the financial markets.
The Featured Articles section includes articles that are relevant to what is going on right now, or that are timely to current global events or trading opportunities. Click on any of the articles to read the full commentary.
Macroeconomic Articles by MP - Click on the Macroeconomic tab within Market Pulse to see a wide range of macroeconomic-specific articles. The articles are divided into sections. Economic Exposure provides context for market moves, from an economic or fundamental viewpoint. Market Pulse provides commentary on a wide array of financial topics. Central Bank watch focuses on interest rates and global government actions. Dean's FX dabbles in all these topics, but looks at events from a Forex trading perspective. OANDA Forex video provides video commentary on financial markets and possible trading opportunities.
Forex Articles by MP - When inside market pulse, click on the Forex News tab to get Forex-specific news. Topics include fundamental events that could drive currency prices, technical areas to watch on the Forex charts and potential trading opportunities. This page is updated frequently, usually every 10 or 15 minutes, as the Forex market moves.
Economic Calendar - Within Market Pulse, click the Economic Calendar tab to access all scheduled economic data releases for today or in the future. The calendar shows the time of the event; the country of origin; the name of the event (click on it for more details); the volatility expected from the event; and the actual, expected and previous data points for the event.
Alter which days are shown by clicking Show Filters. Edit the date range. Which country's events are shown, and the volatility rating of the event, can also be filtered under this table. Hit Filter results to see the economic data releases that match your criteria.
AutoChartist - AutoChartist is a tool within the OANDA Web and OANDA Desktop platforms (discussed a bit later). They are accessed by clicking the Technical Analysis button. AutoChartist is a statistical charting program that reveals repeating patterns, along with a short-term prediction of the price direction based on that pattern. Signals show the pattern, the profit target and percentage likelihood that a target will be reached (based on historical results for prior patterns).
Once in AutoChartist, click on Trading Opportunities to see the various patterns playing out right now, and to filter the types of trades that are shown. The tool can be imported directly into a live account, so the signals can be seen within the trading platform.
The feature works on demo accounts, but in this case the AutoChartist charts are delayed by five candles, reducing the tool's usefulness.
OANDA Labs - OANDA Labs is accessible from the OANDA homepage by clicking Trading > Analysis and then scrolling down to OANDA labs.
OANDA Labs provides a wide range of unbiased statistical market data. these data can be used by traders to make more informed trading decisions.
Statistics include position ratios (how many traders are long and short), order book (where orders are placed, which can aid in setting stop losses and profit targets), currency correlations, volatility analysis, candlestick pattern recognition, heatmaps, recent OANDA spreads and Commitment of Traders (COT) charts. A sample version of AutoChartist is also provided.
Charts & Technical Analysis - After logging into the account, clicking OANDA web will launch the web-based browser. This platform can be used at home or on the road. It doesn't require a download, as the platform runs off OANDA's servers, through the client's web browser.
A chart is displayed prominently in the platform. Where the current pair is typed in (EUR/USD, for example), type in an alternate currency pair and hit enter to see that chart. Next to that box is the chart interval; alter it to see 1-minute charts up to monthly charts. To the right is the chart type – choose between Bars, Candles, Line, Area and Heikin-Ashi. To the right of that is the Settings tab. This is where traders can alter the default settings of the chart.
In that same column is the Indicators button. Clicking it produces a huge list of indicators. Search for a specific indicator or scroll to find the indicator of choice. Click on it to add it to the chart. The next two buttons on the chart's menu bar allow you to undo or redo recent changes. Full screen mode expands the chart to the full screen. At the far right of the top menu, Select Layout allows for multiple charts to be seen at one time.
Along the left of the chart is another menu. These are drawing tools, such trendlines, text notes and Fibonacci retracement levels. Click on the icons, or the tiny arrows beside them, to use a drawing tool.
Order Entry - There are multiple ways to place an order:
- Click on a price in the Rates window.
- Click on the Buy/Sell Panel located on the chart (can be moved). If this doesn't appear, right-click on the chart, go to Trading > Trading Properties and make sure "Show Buy/Sell Panel" is selected.
- Right-click on the chart. Hover over Trading, and select Buy or Sell.
Each of these options will produce a pop-up window. Fill in the rest of the order details, including whether the entry is a limit or stop order, the number of units (lots), the entry price and the expiry date.
Stop loss and target orders can be set based on number pips or price. Trailing stop losses are also placed using this form. On the web platform, default order settings (such as always using the same stop loss amount) can't be saved, but they can be on the desktop platform.
Desktop Platform - The desktop platform is very similar to the web platform, but allows for more customization which is useful for active traders. This is a downloadable platform and runs on the client's computer.
The default charting on the desktop platform is simpler than on the web version. Click Advanced Charting along the left of the screen to activate the more feature-rich charts.
Tools such as news, Market Pulse and economic analysis are accessible via the links along the right (will open a webpage). To find more resources, look under the Resources tab on the main menu.
Orders are placed the same way as on the web platform, but default settings can be customized. Go to Tools > User Preferences. Multiple settings can be altered in this menu, but trade settings are under the Trading tab. Alter the default stop loss and target levels, if desired. For one-click trading (based on the defaults), un-check "Show Confirmation Window" and "Confirm One-Click Trades".
MetaTrader Platform - MetaTrader is a third-party software provider, used by many Forex brokers and traders. It is a downloadable platform that traders can customize to their liking. Upon downloading the platform and installing it, credentials will need to be entered (provided by OANDA) so the software can access the account OANDA's Forex data/prices.
The software is similar in many ways to the OANDA Web and Desktop platforms.
To trade, right-click on the chart or double-click on a currency rate. This produces a pop-up window where the specific trade levels are entered. Turn on one-click trading by right-clicking and choosing One-Click Trading from the menu. Use the pop-up that appears to buy or sell instantly.
To customize the platform and trading defaults, go to Tools > Options. Fo through each of the tabs to customize the platform. The Trade tab is where defaults are set for one-click trading.
MetaTrade uses OANDA price data, but is a separate entity. For specifics on using the MetaTrader 4 software, see the Meta Trader Tutorial.
The popular MULTICHARTS platform is also available to OANDA clients with premium accounts. A premium account requires a minimum $50,000 balance.
API Access - After logging in on the OANDA site, click Manage API access to set up an API access key. This is a unique key that allows users to start generating automated trading strategies.
The API console can also be accessed from inside OANDA web (the trading platform) by clicking the API button along the top of the screen.
After generating a key, scroll down to see the steps for learning, testing, building and trading with an automated strategy.
Trading Products: Forex & CFDs - OANDA provides commission-free trading in more than 100 instruments. This includes more than 60 Forex pairs and contracts for difference (CFDs) in global stock indexes, commodities, bonds and metals. CFD and precious metal trading is not available to U.S. residents. to see all the trading options, on the OANDA homepage, click Trading and then select Markets.
While there are no commissions, OANDA makes money from the spread charged. CFD spreads are as much as 30 times the spread available in the underlying futures market. Spreads are reduced for Premium account holders who hold more than $50,000 in their account.
Commodities include Brent oil, West Texas oil, corn, natural gas, soybeans, sugar and wheat.
Tradable bonds include the Bund, U.K. 10y Gilt, U.S. 10Y T-Note, U.S. 5Y T-Note, U.S. 2Y T-Note and the U.S. T-Bond.
Trade 14 global stock indexes, including the S&P 500, U.K. 100, China A50, Japan 225 and nine others.
Gold, silver, palladium, platinum and the gold/silver ratio can also be traded. These metals can also be traded (and are quoted) in a wide-range of currencies.
Live Rates: Forex & CFDs - From the Markets page, scroll down and click real-time rates. this page shows the current prices and spreads of all the OANDA trading products. Click on any product to see how the spread has acted (increased and decreased) over time.
Current rates and spreads are also shown inside the OANDA trading platforms in the Rates window.
The Bid is the price at which trader can currently sell while the Ask is the price at which a trader can currently buy. The spread is the difference between the two.
Education & Resources
OANDA Academy - OANDA offers a wide range of education resources, including interactive and professionally run trading sessions, free articles/videos and self-directed introductory trading courses.
From OANDA homepage, click Trading and then select Learn.
Free Education for Traders - The free education for traders link provides a list of webinars traders can sign up for. note the time zone, as multiple time zones are listed for each webinar.
Live Market Analysis is conducted regularly, and special-event webinars are featured when a major market moving event is near, such as a major election.
In addition to analysis, regular webinars are also provided on trading basics, strategies and using the OANDA platforms.
Use the self-directed learning options to study at your own pace. current programs include:
- Introducing Currency Trading
- Commodities and Precious Metals
- Explore Technical Trading
The News and Commentary section provides insight into current market moving events and potential trading opportunities.
Premium Education for Clients - Premium education is free and focuses on building trading and analysis skills, but is only available to current and live (real money) OANDA clients.
The courses are delivered via webinar in various time zones around the world. Topics include trend trading, interpreting price action, divergence, reversals, multiple time frame analysis, trading strategies, risk/reward, "inner" trendlines, Fibonacci, gap and volume analysis and exiting trades.
OANDA Support - Live OANDA support is available when markets are open. when support isn't available, there are loads of helpful resources to help traders out.
To access the support center from the homepage, click resources and select support. Contact Us will also provide options for getting help.
Once on the support page, type a question in the search box to find information about the query online. Click the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to see tips for common questions/problems. If personal assistance is required, click the Customer Support box.
Similar to the FAQ box, scrolling down the page reveals common questions on various topics. Click on any question to get help with it. Click "See more" to read all the common questions in that category.
Live Chat - If the solution to a problem can't be found in the support area, chatting with an agent is the best option for getting a direct answer.
Upon clicking "Chat with an agent" in the Customer Support box, a pop-up will ask for your name, email, your account type (live, demo, non-client), language preference, geographic region and the topic of the query.